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Living in an incredibly divided country, where people hold opinions about how life should be lived that are so strong they won’t hesitate to cut ties with another person for holding an opposing view, I’ve been thinking about the role public messaging plays in the public’s decision-making. Certainly, the reasoning behind an individual’s decision-making stems from a combination of factors, including their personal wants and needs, the desire to fit in socially by doing what they believe will make them the most accepted by their peers, and what people in their inner social circle are doing and advising them to do. But what weight do messages from authority figures even carry these days? We’re living in a time when trust of authority has been eroded, and when people who don’t want to believe what an authority figure tells them can easily find something on the internet that “supports” their false view and believe that as reality instead.

Public messaging can work when it’s clear and unwavering, or has been enacted and upheld as law. For instance, I remember the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign having a strong presence in classrooms when I was in elementary school. I don’t remember anyone questioning the message of “don’t do drugs,” and my generation seemed to grow up with, at the very least, a sense of caution when it came to illegal drugs. Jumping ahead to a present-day example, if an individual is in massive debt and tries to get a loan, they’ll likely be denied as a result of policies in place at the lender, effectively being saved from ruining their financial life further thanks to established rules and regulations.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has worked in the credit union space for over a decade. She joined CU Times as managing editor in 2015 and was promoted to executive editor in 2019. Before that, she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union) in Los Angeles from 2013-2015, and as a CU Times freelancer from 2011-2013. She has been a professional writer and editor for more than 17 years, specializing in news and lifestyle journalism as well as marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space.

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